Predators take Game 2 in double overtime thanks to Pekka Rinne’s stellar saves

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What started out as a defensive battle for the first 58 minutes of the game turned into a double overtime thriller in Vancouver as the Predators beat the Canucks 2-1 to tie the best of seven second round series at 1-1 thanks to Matt Halischuk’s snipe with 5:09 remaining in double overtime

We knew from the get-go that these two teams would be playing some defensively tough games and that it would be more of a battle of strategy than anything else. Turns out all we needed to have the game take a turn for the exciting was to head to multiple overtimes.

Nashville had a golden opportunity to break the game open and grab the lead in the second period when they headed to the power play. Only problem there is that the Predators power play has gone quiet and the Canucks know how to counter shorthanded. Alex Burrows helped make the Preds pay for their ineffectiveness to help the Canucks jump out to a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal.

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From that point on, the Canucks took the foot off the gas pedal and tried to defend their way to victory. That strategy wouldn’t end up in their best interests.

Both Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne were stellar all game long with Luongo making 44 saves and Rinne making highlight reel stops all game long on the way to making 32 stops.  During regulation, it was Luongo who dazzled with his stops to keep the Predators off the board early on.

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Ultimately it would be a weak goal under Luongo’s leg pad from Ryan Suter that would tie the game 1-1 with 1:07 to play in the third period. The Canucks would threaten once more late in the third with efforts to scare Rinne but could not break through.

The game headed off to overtime where the teams mutual hesitancy to press the offensive part of the game evaporated and the teams traded chances back and forth. There it was Rinne who stole the show pulling stunning save after stunning save to keep the Canucks turned away through both overtime and double overtime.

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In double overtime, the game would turn thanks to a quick break in from the blue line that saw Nick Spaling hit Matt Halischuk with a pass and Halischuk would wire his shot over Luongo’s glove hand and into the net to end it.

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For Nashville, the win is obviously huge as the tie the series up and get their offense on the board, finally. The work their defense did in keeping the Canucks quiet paired with Rinne’s unbelievable work. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the offensive side of things, but tonight they shined on defense and aside from a horrible power play mistake, they were flawless.

Vancouver, meanwhile, has to get that killer instinct back. Getting up 1-0 and then sitting back on the lead, even against a poor offensive team like Nashville, is a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen it happen to Vancouver before and we’ve seen it everywhere else throughout the playoffs. Safe might not be death, but it’s inviting the grim reaper into the rink to take a look around. If Vancouver can’t get their offense going, and that means their big guns of the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, every game is going to be close like this one. Playing with fire like that is no good for a team with designs on the Stanley Cup.

After the game, Matt Halischuk talks about his game-winning goal.

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Here are the highlights from the double overtime epic between these two.

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Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.